Globe Reaches Agreement with Most Unions, Defers 60-Day Shutdown Notice
Nearly seven hours after a midnight deadline passed, negotiations ended between The New York Times-owned Boston Globe and its largest union as the paper's future seemed to hang in the balance.
A statement from Boston Globe spokesman Robert Powers received around 11:30 a.m. said:
"We are very pleased to have reached agreements with six of the seven unions that were involved in recent negotiations. This includes agreements with the drivers, mailers, pressmen, the electricians, machinists, and technical services group. As a result of these agreements, which are subject to ratification by union members, we expect to achieve both the workplace flexibility and the financial savings that we sought from these unions. We are not, therefore, making a filing today under the Workers Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act. We appreciate the productive and cooperative approach demonstrated by the leadership of these unions throughout these difficult negotiations.
"We are disappointed, however, that we have not yet been able to reach an agreement with the Guild. Because of that, we are evaluating our alternatives under both the Guild contract and applicable law to achieve as quickly as possible the workplace flexibility and remaining cost savings we need to help put The Globe on a sound financial footing."
Around 6:45 a.m., Guild president Daniel Totten said they would be taking a break from negotiations and reconvene later, but probably not today. He did not say whether the Times had extended the deadline again.
"...management rejected a [Guild] proposal that included a 3.5 percent pay cut for most employees, an unpaid furlough, an increase in the early retirement age, and a reduction in pension and 401(a) contributions.
" 'They rejected our on-the-record offer,' said Guild president Daniel Totten. 'It's the same bullying and pressure tactics. We remain here in good faith.'
"Catherine Mathis, a spokeswoman for the Times Co., declined to comment this morning.
The Guild is the largest of the Globe's unions, representing editorial, advertising and business staff.
The Boston Herald reported this morning that the threat to close the Globe had intensified:
"About an hour before the midnight deadline, Globe negotiators gave union leaders copies of a 60-day shutdown warning notice they said they would file today if talks were not successful.
"The notice, required by the federal Workers Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act, gives workers 60 days warning before the closure of a business.
"'Filing the WARN notice is a difficult step that we would like to avoid but, unfortunately, given the state of the negotiations, it is one we must be prepared to take if negotiations are not successful,' said Globe spokesman Robert Powers."
Powers said the paper would continue publishing during the 60 days, and noted the shutdown notice is reversible and does not require the company to close the business.
Nevertheless, Boston Newspaper Guild president Dan Totten said the threat to file a WARN notice was "completely unacceptable," after the union had met the paper's demands in "several different ways on several different occasions this evening."
Those demands include pay cuts and cuts in sick days, holidays, company health-care contributions and 401(k) matching contributions. In addition, the Herald reports that "large layoffs" loom for Globe employees.
In fact, the greatest disagreement seems to be over lifetime job guarantees and the right to lay off employees regardless of seniority.
The Herald reported that at around 3:30 a.m. Monday, the union for the mailers -- who insert advertising and other materials into the paper -- agreed to give up lifetime job guarantees:
"Union president Mary White said giving up the lifetime job guarantees -- which protects members from layoffs -- was more important to management than the $5 million in concessions that the union was asked to come up with -- and did. " 'We want to keep the newspaper open and we believe The New York Times threat, that if we didn't come to some sort of agreement, that we would close,' said White, who said members 'could be vulnerable to layoffs.' "
"Union president Mary White said giving up the lifetime job guarantees -- which protects members from layoffs -- was more important to management than the $5 million in concessions that the union was asked to come up with -- and did.
" 'We want to keep the newspaper open and we believe The New York Times threat, that if we didn't come to some sort of agreement, that we would close,' said White, who said members 'could be vulnerable to layoffs.' "
More than half of the members of the mailer's union are currently protected by lifetime job guarantees.
At around 8:30 a.m., the pressmen's union president announced that a tentative agreement had been reached with management, leaving the Guild the only remaining union that has not resolved its differences with the paper.
The Herald is live blogging the talks.